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Stressed Out Pets

Lihoman... [Flickr]

A stressed out pet may have a decrease in appetite, isolate itself, or even  show aggression towards people and other pets.  Reducing stress factors for your pet will make for a happier companion, and probably a happier owner.

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According to a favorite Christmas carol, ‘tis the season to be jolly, but as it gets closer to Christmas, a lot of folks seem to be anything but jolly. They may be stressed out with too much to do and just not enough time. You may notice that your pet looks a little stressed out, too.

You might think - what does my pet have to be stressed about? It just hangs around the house all day – no deadlines, no gifts to buy, no crowds to deal with. So what causes stress for our pets?

For one thing, pets get stressed out by change. They like daily routine - a regular schedule of eating, going for a walk, playing, sleeping, even greeting their owners coming home from work or school. When their routine changes significantly it can cause them to feel stress.

Change in diet is another stress-maker for pets. Sure it’s fun to treat a pet to some of the yummy things we enjoy only at holidays, but let’s face it - a lot of those yummy things aren’t so good for us humans, much less for our pets. High-fat, high sugar foods can put a strain on an animal’s digestive system, creating more stress for our pet.

Extra visitorsin the house can be stressful for a pet, especially pets that don’t respond well to strangers. Older animals, and those that are nervous or shy, will do better if you can find a quiet place for them to get away from the extra activity. Even pets who get along well with people can become overexcited with all the extra visitors.

There are a few things you can do to help your pet get through the Christmas season relatively stress-free. Make a conscious effort to keep its schedule as routine as possible. Avoid feeding it too many treats and goodies from the table. Find a quiet room away from the hustle and bustle where your pet can be calm and relaxed.

And give your pet what it really wants for Christmas – time and attention from you. That will go a long way toward helping both you and your best friend enjoy the holidays without getting too stressed out, when you’re speaking of pets.

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Mindy Norton has been “Speaking of Pets” on Alabama Public Radio since 1995.
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